Compensation and Student Employee Benefits

PhD Students

PhD Students at Columbia

PhD students are essential to the vibrant academic community across Columbia. To support their success, Columbia PhD candidates receive a robust compensation and benefits package for themselves and their dependents. This includes financial support, full tuition remission, affordable Columbia housing, health and dental coverage, and a limited child care subsidy during their fully funded years.

PhD students engage in fully-immersive academic programs that include their own scholarship as well as participation in teaching and research activities as student employees. PhD students are employed as appointed Student Officers of Instruction or Research during some or all of their funded years, depending on the design of their specific academic program.

Academic programs provide PhD students with either 12-month or 9-month support and a summer stipend in their funded years. Student officer appointments are also 12-month or 9-month terms. PhD students on 9-month appointments who are not on appointment during the summer receive a summer stipend and have no work obligation during this time. But they are expected to make progress in their academic pursuits.

Students pursuing PhDs in the humanities or social sciences in GSAS or in GSAPP, School of Social Work, SIPA, or Journalism, typically are appointed as student officers for 9-month terms. Students pursuing PhDs in the sciences in GSAS or in SEAS, Nursing, Business, or MSPH are usually on year-round student officer appointments.

Compensation and Stipend

  • Students not on Appointment
    • Minimum stipend support rates for PhD students not on appointment in the 2022-2023 Academic Year (i.e., receiving fellowship support without a service obligation) are currently:
      • $44,431 for those on a 12-month appointment.
      • $39,324 for those on a 9-month appointment (this total stipend includes a $33,324, nine-month stipend plus a $6,000 summer stipend).
  • Students on Appointment
    • Minimum compensation rates for PhD students on appointment in the 2022-2023 Academic Year are currently:
      • $45,320 for those on 12-month appointments
      • $39,990 for those on 9-month appointments (total compensation includes a $33,990 nine-month compensation plus a $6,000 summer stipend in June 2023).
    • Annual Increases
      • Compensation and stipend support rates will increase at an annual rate of no less than 3% for the duration of the current contract, with raises taking effect at the beginning of each of the next three years.
      • Summer stipend increases: Students eligible for summer stipends will receive $5,500 in June 2022. This is an increase of $1,500 over stipends for 2021. Summer stipends for eligible students will increase by $500 to $6,000 in 2023; and to $6,180 in 2024.

    Fees Waived

    For students in their funded years, the University covers the Facilities fee, Columbia Health & Related Services Fee, ISSO fee for international students, upgraded printing fee, and gym access fee
     

    Tuition Remission

    Full tuition remission (e.g., for a first-year PhD student, $52,016 for 2022-2023) for students in their funded years
     

    Guaranteed University Housing for Five Years

    Our housing benefit stands out among our peers by guaranteeing housing far beyond the first year. In addition, students have the chance to view their housing options before choosing where to live. Read more about housing

     

    Medical Coverage

    For all PhD students in their fully funded years and/or when on a fully-funded appointment, the University offers a comprehensive health-care plan with no premiums that also covers dependents. For more information and to enroll visit the Columbia Health website.

    Dental Benefits

    The University offers two dental plans for all PhD students and their dependents in their fully-funded years and/or when on a fully-funded appointment. The University covers part of the premiums of each of the plans.

    • Emblem Dental Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan: The EmblemHealth Preferred Dental Program provides access to over 12,700 General Dentists and Specialists throughout our area. EmblemHealth's fully insured benefits include 100% paid in full in-network coverage for preventative dental services along with many other benefits. Please review the Emblem Dental Making the Most of Your Dental Plan brochure for more information.
      • If you choose to enroll  in the EmblemHealth dental plan, the University covers 75% of premiums for all PhD students in their fully funded years and their dependents
      • Note: ColumbiaDoctors Dentistry does not participate in this plan. Please review the list of participating dentists before enrolling.
      • To enroll in EmblemHealth Dental: Send an email to [email protected] with the Subject 'Columbia PhD Dental Plan Enrollment Request' and an EmblemHealth representative will reply via secure email to assist with the completion of your enrollment.
      • Current EmblemHealth Dental Rates
      • For more details on the enrollment process, please review How to Enroll in EmblemHealth Dental Plan
      • Note: Once enrolled, you will see a charge on your student account for the full amount of the cost for the plan you are enrolled in. This charge will be followed by a credit on your account in the amount of $183.15 for single coverage or $500.94 for family coverage. If you have questions regarding the credit on your account, please contact your Financial Aid Office.
    • Aetna Dental PPO Plan: Aetna Student Health offers a Dental Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan to Columbia University students and their eligible dependents. Please review the Columbia Health website for details and enrollment.
      • If you choose to enroll in the Aetna dental plan beginning August 1, 2022, the University will provide an equivalent dollar amount of 75% of the premium for the EmblemHealth dental plan in subsidy toward the Aetna dental premium.
      • To enroll go to: Columbia Health Voluntary Dental and Vision Plans.
      • Note: Once you enroll, you will be required to pay the amount of the premium directly to Aetna. Once enrolled, you may submit your receipt of payment to your Financial Aid Office to initiate a credit on your account in the amount of $183.15 for single coverage or $500.94 for family coverage. If you have questions regarding the credit on your account, please contact your Financial Aid Office.

    Health Funds

    All student employees within the unit have access to two student employee support funds.

    • The Student Employee Support Fund reimburses out-of-pocket medical, dental, and vision expenses of student employees. The fund will provide $300,000 in out-of-pocket reimbursements through August 1, 2022. The total sum will rise to $350,000 through August 1, 2023, and by $25,000 per year for the remaining two years of the SWC-UAW contract.
    • The Student Employee Dependent Support Fund reimburses out-of-pocket medical, dental, and vision expenses for dependents of student employees. The fund will provide $150,000 in out-of-pocket reimbursements through August 1, 2022, and will increase by $25,000 per year to a maximum of $225,000 starting August 15, 2024.
    • Details and an application are available on the Student Support Fund Page. Questions may be sent to [email protected].

    Child Care

    The University currently provides a limited annual child care subsidy for fully funded PhD students of $4,500.  The subsidy increases to $5,000 on August 1, 2022, and to $5,500 on August 1, 2024. The subsidy provides coverage for each child who is under the age of 6 and not yet attending kindergarten. If both parents are funded PhD students, they each may apply individually for the child care subsidy.

    Additional Benefits When on Appointment

    • Advance Requests: Salaried PhD students (including DMAs) experiencing financial hardship and needing an advance on their Fall 2022 funding may request such an advance. Requests may be submitted starting of August 22, 2022 and through October 5, 2022 for any amount up to $3,000. Requests submitted will be reviewed and processed promptly, and funds will be disbursed in late August or early September. Students who may apply for this advance will see a link to the application form when logged into their student account via SSOL. Please note that there are additional criteria and conditions in order to receive this advance.
      • You must submit a request for a specific amount, up to $3,000, via the dedicated application form in SSOL.
      • The amount of the advance will appear as a charge on your student account, which must be paid prior to registering for the Spring 2023 term.
      • You must be enrolled in a PhD or DMA program.
      • You must be registered for the Fall 2022 term.
      • Your student account balance must be $5,000 or less.
      • You are currently, or are expected to be, appointed as a salaried student officer during the fall term. Students who are on $0 salary appointments, or paid fully through the lump sum stipends at the start of the fall term (external awards, training grants, etc.) are not eligible.
      • All applications are subject to review for compliance with the terms described above.
    • Transit/Parking Reimbursement Program (T/PRP): Student employees may participate in the University Transit/Parking Reimbursement Program (T/PRP) when they are working on salaried appointment. The T/PRP allows you to pay for commuting expenses with pre-tax dollars, deducted directly from your paycheck. See the Human Resources Transit/Parking Reimbursement Program website for more information, including how to enroll.
    • Voluntary Retirement Savings Program (VRSP): Student employees may participate in the VRSP when they are working on salaried appointment. The VRSP is a 403(b) retirement plan that lets you contribute from 1% to 80% of your eligible pay, on a pre-tax (deducted along with any other taxes) and/or Roth after-tax (deducted from take-home pay) basis, up to annual IRS limit. See the Human Resources Retirement -- Student Employees website for more information, including how to enroll.

    Master’s and Undergraduate Students

    Master's and Undergraduate Students at Columbia

    Compensation rates for master’s and undergraduate student employees on appointment or hired as student casuals performing research and instructional work were part of the labor agreement between the University and the Student Workers of Columbia-UAW (SWC-UAW) ratified in January 2022 and in effect until August 1, 2025. These rates also apply to non-PhD doctoral students and PhD students beyond their guaranteed years of support.

    Under the contract, for the 2021-22 academic year, compensation rates for these student appointments will increase by 5% or a minimum of $100, with increases of 3% annually through the remainder of the contract. Minimum hourly compensation for student instructional or research casuals for the 2021-2022 academic year is $21 per hour. That will rise to $21.50 per hour on August 1, 2022; to $22 per hour on August 1, 2023; and to $22.50 on August 1, 2024.

    All student employees within the unit have access to two student employee support funds. These funds reimburse out-of-pocket medical, dental, and vision expenses for student employees and their eligible dependents.

    • The Student Employee Support Fund will cover $300,000 in out-of-pocket reimbursements through August 1, 2022. The total sum will rise to $350,000 through August 1, 2023, and by $25,000 per year for the remaining two years of the SWC-UAW contract.
       
    • The Student Employee Dependent Support Fund reimburses out-of-pocket medical, dental, and vision expenses for dependents of student employees. The fund will provide $150,000 in out-of-pocket reimbursements through August 1, 2022, and will increase by $25,000 per year to a maximum of $225,000 starting August 15, 2024.

    Details and an application are available on the Student Support Fund Page. Questions may be sent to [email protected].

      Student employees may participate in the University Transit/Parking Reimbursement Program (T/PRP).